HP Hints Flexible Display Palm, HP Devices

HP’s Phil McKinney spoke at MobileBeat in San Francisco on July 12th. Holding up a rugged Mylar-infused bi-stable flexible display, McKinney said:

These are the kinds of display technologies that will change what we think of in form factors, both in products from Palm with flexible displays, and with HP.

HP- and Palm-branded products sporting bi-stable E Ink-like displays are quite possible. Maybe HP or Palm is working on an ebook reader. Totally flexible and rollable displays like the one McKinney was holding up are… well… let’s just say I’m not holding my breath and neither should you. It is one thing to print circuits unto flexible substrates for technical feasibility and demonstration purposes; it is something completely different to volume manufacture them, get it into an affordable product that people would want to spend money for and use.

Looking at the super high-tech bi-stable Mylar-infused flexible display, I can see that it is flexible but it looks like I’ll be hard-pressed to keep it flat. The other transparent versions, on the other hand, don’t seem to be quite rollable.

It is quite interesting to see the difference between a secretive company like Apple and a fairly open one like HP. Apple doesn’t share anything until it has perfected something. Sure there are some patent applications here and there that get publicized, but in general you only get to see products and services that are fairly vetted. For instance you won’t see Apple talking about future display technologies for its next-generation iPhone or some other product. On the other hand you have companies like HP that shares that it is developing bi-stable flexible displays. In what product will that display technology be used? Who knows. When will it come out? That’s a good question. What type of performance can we expect? No one knows. How much? Weight? Ruggedness? Etc. No one knows anything. Why does HP do this?

My recommendation: Stop with all of this and just get busy making a product with it.